Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a rare form of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the back. The condition can cause severe pain, stiffness, and swelling in the vertebrae of the spine.

In some people, AS affects other joints in the body and may cause new bone growth.

Although there is no cure for AS, treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications.

People living with AS can take this quiz to test their knowledge of AS treatments and complications. Their friends, family members, and caregivers may also wish to check their understanding of the condition.

As with other disorders and diseases, AS affects everyone differently.

According to the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA), some people may only ever experience mild-to-moderate pain or discomfort that comes and goes. Others may develop bone fusion that can cause severe pain and lead to disability.

Although some people will require additional medication, the SAA state that NSAIDs are the drugs that people most commonly use to treat AS and similar conditions. Some people may need to take higher dosages to notice an effect.

However, higher dosages and long-term use of NSAIDs can potentially lead to some complications. A person taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, should have regular checkups with their doctor to monitor their AS, get blood tests, and make sure that new medication is not necessary.

According to the Global Healthy Living Foundation, nearly half of all people living with AS develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to weaken over time. It can eventually lead to breaks in the bones. A person with AS should talk with their doctor about screening for bone density regularly to check for the condition.

People can take steps to prevent osteoporosis, such as performing weight-bearing exercises, taking prescribed medications, and supplementing with calcium and vitamin D.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet play an important role in treating AS.

According to the SAA, exercise plays an important part in treating AS. They strongly recommend that a person take time each day to exercise, even if it consists of short 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Exercise can help improve mobility, improve posture, and reduce pain for people living with AS.

The SAA report that some people notice that certain foods can either trigger flare-ups or help improve symptoms. Although no single dietary program will work for everyone, a person can alter their diet by adding or eliminating specific foods that affect their symptoms.

Heart disease can be a complication of AS due to several factors, including lack of exercise, inflammation, and NSAID use. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease for people living with AS.

Depression is a common complication of AS. In fact, a 2019 study showed that people living with AS were more than two times as likely to have depression than those in the control group.

Other factors that affected the likelihood of depression included presence of other health conditions like diabetes or cancer, lower income, being female, and being of older age.

A person living with depression should talk with their doctor about finding the right resources and support.

NSAIDs are not the only treatment option for AS. Other medications are available to treat severe cases of AS.

According to the SAA, other medications that a doctor may prescribe include sulfasalazine, corticosteroid joint injections, methotrexate, and biologics, such as interleukin-17 inhibitors and tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors.

Expert knowledge of AS

You are up to date with the latest information about AS treatments and complications. You know the importance of checking for signs of complications and following treatment recommendations from a doctor.

For more resources about AS, consider visiting the SAA’s website. Intermediate knowledge of AS

You know quite a bit about AS complications and treatments. People living with AS can reduce their risk of developing complications by staying informed, following their treatment plan, and having regular checkups with their doctor.

For more AS resources, visit the SAA’s website. Starter knowledge of AS

It seems as though you have a bit more to learn about AS. Although this form of arthritis is rare, many resources are available to help people learn about the symptoms, treatment, and complications of AS.

The SAA’s website is a good place to find such resources.